Pastoral Pondering 5-10-2016

Good morning everyone!  This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it!

It is a special day today. Today, delegates from the United Methodist church begin our 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. There will be people from all over the world in Portland who will have many different views on where they believe the United Methodist church will head in this next quadrennium. There are some issues that are very controversial and some that many will probably consider not too difficult to resolve. I asked you to join me and pray for the delegates of our Annual Conference. I would ask that you pray today for all of the Bishops who will lead the delegates through this session of General Conference. Pray especially for our Bishop, Thomas Bickerton, who has the needs of our general church on his heart and mind.

In order to pray for the needs of the church we need to be contemplative. I was reading through my devotionals this morning and one in particular was helpful. It is my daily devotional from Richard Rohr, titled Watching the river. This is a small part of that devotional.

Thomas Keating teaches a beautifully simple exercise to use in contemplation. Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling; acknowledge that you’re having the thought. Don’t hate it, don’t judge it, don’t critique it, don’t, in any way, move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Admit that you’re having it, then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. The river is your stream of consciousness.

You may be wondering what’s the point of such contemplation. The point is that if God wants to get at you–and my assumption is that God always does–if God wants to get through your barriers and blockages, God has the best chance of doing so through contemplative practice, quite simply because you and your limited mind are finally out of the way!

Why not begin a practice of consciously “watching” our thoughts and name them so they can lose power over us. We need to get out of the way so God can get through. As our general conference gathers it is my prayer they will be contemplative and God will come through in the discussions they engage and the decisions they make.

Praise God for breaking through to all of us as we continue on the journey together!

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